BREAKING NEWS Rocket City Trash Pandas CEO Ralph Nelson resigns Full Story
SEVERE WX : Frost Advisory View Alerts

Disney World sets reopening date

Disney World will reopen its gates, ending a mul...

Posted: May 27, 2020 2:48 PM

Disney World will reopen its gates, ending a multi-month closure of the park that left the Walt Disney Company reeling.

The Disney theme park, which employs some 70,000 people, plans to begin a phased reopening on July 11 for its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks and July 15 for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, the company said on Wednesday.

Walt Disney World as well as Disney's Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California, closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney is implementing several measures to reopen safely and prevent the spread of the coronavirus at its parks

  • Employees and guests will be required to wear face coverings and undergo temperature screenings before entering the parks.
  • Disney will reduce capacity at the parks and the resort will temporarily suspend parades, fireworks and other events that create crowds
  • The resort will also enable cashless transactions by expanding contactless payments.
  • Disney will also increase the number of available hand-sanitizing stations.

The plan was approved Wednesday morning by the Orange County government. It still needs approval from Orange County's mayor and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

All of Disney's 12 parks in North America, Asia and Europe closed because of the outbreak at different points this year. Shanghai Disneyland, the company's largest international park, reopened its gates on May 11 after being closed since January 24.

Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which houses trademark attractions like Cinderella's Castle and Space Mountain, is the world's most-visited theme park, accounting for more than 20 million visitors in 2018, according to a report by AECOM. Disney has invested billions of dollars in its theme park business, opening Star Wars-themed lands in Florida and California last year and building new rides like "Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway."

Reopening Disney World is a significant cultural and business endeavor for the company. Disney generated more than $26 billion in sales at its Parks, Experiences and Products unit in fiscal 2019, representing 37% of the company's overall revenue.

But the company revealed in its latest earnings report that its Parks and Experiences unit was hit particularly hard by the outbreak last quarter. The segment's operating profit fell 58% compared with last year — shedding a billion dollars in profit just a few weeks into the global shutdown.

"The theme parks define Disney for millions of its fans around the world," Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com, told CNN Business. "Returning its parks to operation signals that Disney is coming back to full speed as a company again."

The grand reopening of the park is a big deal for Disney and the entire global tourism industry. It sends a message to the industry "that a safe reopening is possible," according to Niles.

"Disney is the market leader in not just the theme park business, but in tourism worldwide," Niles said. "It tells the industry that tourists likely will be back traveling again soon because no one draws tourists like Disney can."

Reopening its premiere park won't be easy, however. Getting Disney World back to business presents risks, both financially and in terms of public health, according to Trip Miller, a Disney shareholder and managing partner at Gullane Capital Partners.

"The risk is that coronavirus cases pop up again after opening. What do you do then?" Miller said. "Additionally, managing cast members health and keeping adequate staffing is a big challenge. If a Disney cast member contracts the virus, do you shut down the entire park? An area they were in? Do you refund tickets? You just don't want the happiest place on earth to be seen as a dangerous place."

The opening of Disney World is also a big test for Disney's new CEO Bob Chapek, who before taking over for Bob Iger in February, was the former head of Disney's parks and resorts division.

"I think Chapek is getting a real trial by fire that nobody could have predicted," Miller added. "However, his familiarity with the parks business is an advantage in dealing with this. He will have a unique perspective on how to operate Disney's parks as they reopen in this new world."

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 52°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 57°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 54°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 50°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 523955

Reported Deaths: 10798
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755821496
Mobile40234800
Madison34153500
Tuscaloosa25423444
Montgomery24084573
Shelby23241242
Baldwin20764302
Lee15642166
Calhoun14365311
Morgan14171274
Etowah13707348
Marshall12015220
Houston10418279
Elmore10023202
Limestone9866148
Cullman9514191
St. Clair9498236
Lauderdale9286233
DeKalb8767183
Talladega8123173
Walker7149277
Autauga6773106
Jackson6769110
Blount6548133
Colbert6237132
Coffee5434113
Dale4782111
Russell431339
Franklin421482
Chilton4132110
Covington4083115
Tallapoosa3928148
Escambia390375
Dallas3529150
Chambers3523122
Clarke347460
Marion3080100
Pike306776
Lawrence296995
Winston273272
Bibb256961
Marengo248561
Geneva246575
Pickens233359
Barbour227555
Hale218775
Butler213868
Fayette210360
Henry188644
Cherokee182745
Randolph178041
Monroe173440
Washington165938
Macon156949
Clay150556
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137653
Wilcox124927
Bullock122140
Conecuh109828
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa100228
Greene91434
Choctaw59024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 836563

Reported Deaths: 12096
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby931861591
Davidson88121924
Knox49873624
Hamilton43438487
Rutherford42361422
Williamson27569216
Sumner23515342
Montgomery19661224
Wilson18496229
Out of TN1793495
Unassigned16772133
Sullivan16211287
Blount15194194
Bradley14633148
Washington14197243
Maury13242169
Sevier13182175
Putnam11185173
Madison10810241
Robertson9615129
Anderson8633171
Hamblen8509171
Greene7739152
Tipton7227103
Coffee6832121
Dickson6735109
Cumberland6577128
Carter6472156
Bedford6430129
Gibson6406144
McMinn637097
Roane6193102
Jefferson6082123
Loudon601969
Lawrence580986
Hawkins5790106
Monroe571495
Warren551581
Dyer5365104
Franklin508988
Fayette492577
Obion450296
Cheatham445254
Cocke444198
Rhea431475
Lincoln430763
Marshall411858
Campbell409962
Weakley403563
Giles395799
Henderson373075
Macon358477
Carroll357682
White355468
Hardin349866
Hardeman346464
Lauderdale314344
Henry312575
Marion310546
Claiborne306173
Scott305345
Overton297461
Wayne294334
Hickman280746
McNairy276854
DeKalb275653
Smith274938
Haywood268361
Grainger259449
Trousdale249022
Morgan246039
Fentress238446
Johnson231738
Bledsoe209911
Chester209451
Crockett201248
Polk200024
Unicoi194849
Cannon188931
Union186234
Grundy178233
Humphreys174222
Lake169526
Sequatchie166928
Benton163140
Decatur157438
Lewis156226
Meigs134724
Stewart130828
Jackson130035
Clay109331
Houston108533
Perry105728
Moore100117
Van Buren83621
Pickett75724
Hancock55112

Community Events